Category Archives: Real-Time GIS

Transport Infrastructure Ireland

Driving efficiency improvements in national road surveys

Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) has deployed a mobile ArcGIS solution to help it automate, standardise and accelerate its annual survey to assess the skid resistance of national roads throughout Ireland. It can now plan and undertake road surface inspections with 20% fewer people, while collecting better data to inform highway improvement programmes.

Mobile inspectors find inspection sites more quickly and collect data more efficiently in the field

Office-based teams don’t waste time printing maps, creating forms, uploading data and filing information

Senior managers monitor and manage progress with real-time insight into the status of surveys

The Challenge

The national road network in Ireland is around 5,300 km long, incorporating multilane motorways and rural single carriageways. Every year, Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) is required to undertake detailed inspections of around 1,000 locations nationwide that have been identified as potentially posing an increased risk of skidding in the future. While none of the inspection sites present an immediate threat to safety for the general public, TII has to complete its survey within four months, so that recommendations can be acted upon as part of proactive road maintenance activities.

Known as the HD28 survey, the skidding risk assessment used to be a very manual process, demanding a large amount of staff time. Inspectors would be given print-outs showing maps of the locations of inspection sites and would collect road observations and data on paper forms. Typically, they had a bundle of around 40-50 sheets of paper for a week’s work and wasted lots of time in the field trying to find inspection sites, as well as grappling with paper in wet and windy weather. Many days of effort were also required in the office to plan inspections, print maps, report on the survey’s progress, enter the collected data into central systems and file away the paper forms.

“ The mobile survey app and reporting dashboard were created and deployed in just one day by the TII in-house team, with no need for consultancy support

Brendan Kennedy – GIS Manager, Transport Infrastructure Ireland

The Solution

TII completely transformed its paper-driven HD28 survey process using solutions from Esri’s ArcGIS platform. Using Collector for ArcGIS, the organisation created a mobile app enabling inspectors to see the precise locations of inspection sites on digital maps, collect data in the field using drop-down boxes and upload it directly to Esri’s ArcGIS Online. Critically, the solution works in online and offline modes, so it can be used in rural areas where there is no mobile coverage. TII also used Esri’s Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS to create a live reporting interface for management at TII to monitor the progress of surveys.

Remarkably, TII was able to create this entire solution incredibly quickly, due to the “ease-of-use and flexibility of ArcGIS,” according to Brendan Kennedy, GIS Manager at TII. “The mobile survey app and reporting dashboard were created and deployed in just one day by the TII in-house team, with no need for consultancy support,” he says.

A key advantage of the ArcGIS-based solution is that the app can be used by employees on their own devices, including mobile phones not owned by TII. Users simply download the app and log in with a secure user name and password. “We didn’t have to purchase and deploy tablets or make any other hardware investments, which kept the cost down,” says Kennedy. “We can also flexibly introduce more people to the survey team from our regional offices, when necessary, to help us meet targets.”

 

 

“ Due to staff changes, we have around 20% fewer personnel and yet can still complete the HD28 survey programme within the required timeframe

Tom Casey – Head of Pavements, Construction Materials & Innovation, Transport Infrastructure Ireland

The Benefits

Efficiencies improved by 20%
As employees no longer have to manually plan their surveys and transfer their survey findings from paper to electronic systems, individual efficiencies have increased by around 10-20%. Indeed, TII estimates that six employees each save one month per year as they do not have to print, file, upload and manage hard copy forms and maps. “Due to staff changes, we have around 20% fewer personnel and yet can still complete the HD28 survey programme within the required timeframe,” says Tom Casey, Head of Pavements, Construction Materials & Innovation at TII.

Greater speed and flexibility in the field
Using the ArcGIS mobile app, inspectors waste less time trying to find sites and can complete nearly twice as many inspections in a typical day. “When the process was paper based, I would get through around 7 to 8 inspections per day; with the app I usually do around 15 inspections per day,” estimates Stephen Smyth, Senior Manager for the Pavement Asset Programme. As all the data inspectors need is always with them, on their phones, they can carry out surveys on a more flexible, impromptu basis, at short notice, when they are already in the area, without having to return to the office to collect the necessary paperwork, which significantly improves their efficiency.

Real-time oversight of survey programme
Previously, TII employees had to develop weekly reports on the status of the survey for senior managers. Now, however, real-time information is available on demand, online, allowing managers to monitor and manage the survey process more effectively. “We can identify regions where perhaps an additional inspector is needed to complete a job list and better allocate resources around the country to ensure that the survey is completed as quickly as possible,” Kennedy explains.

Better decisions about road maintenance
The GIS-driven process improves the accuracy and consistency of the survey data collected, which in turn helps TII to make better informed decisions about interventions and restorative roadworks. The organisation can incorporate skid resistance improvement works into other planned road improvement programmes in the same area, reducing the cost of interventions, minimising disruption for road users and maintaining the safety of roads for years to come.

 

 

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Quocirca Geospatial Intelligence eBook

Quocirca Geospatial Intelligence

On The Move

eBook

Mobile GIS enables improved customer service by getting the right field worker to the right place as quickly as possible. However the capability extends further, to enable field worker activity and status tracking, which protects their safety and provides insight which allows operations managers to adapt priorities and make the right decisions in response to events on the ground.
Using out of the box GIS mobile Apps has allowed organisations to increase field worker productivity by up to 20%, by enabling them to stay organised, report progress, call for assistance, remain productive and minimise travel. At the same time data quality is significantly improved – if you get the data right first time and at the point of capture then costly errors further down the line are avoided.
In essence, field workers collect data through common or rugged mobile devices and that status information and the data collected is available immediately back at the office, viewable on a real time dashboard. Organisations like Thames Water, Westminster City Council, Colas, Willis Group and many more have seen significant benefits from this approach.
Independent analysts Quocirca investigated this technology and the benefits to organisations adopting it. Their conclusions are set out in this eBook. Download the eBook free now to find out more…

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Severn Trent Water

Enhancing customer service through GIS

To help respond to over 140,000 incident reports every year, Severn Trent Water integrated Esri GIS technology into its customer relationship management (CRM) system. Call centre agents can now locate burst pipes and other faults with far greater accuracy, enabling field-based engineers to make repairs more quickly and cost effectively.

The Customer

Severn Trent Water is one of the UK’s largest utility companies, supplying nearly two billion litres of drinking water a day to eight million people in an area of more than 21,000 square kilometres.

Call centre agents can now record accurate incident locations, over the phone, in half the time than before

With accurate location information, engineers waste less time looking for incidents, saving money and enabling repairs to be made more promptly

Severn Trent Water uses the incident map to reduce the time previously required to produce reports for OFWAT

The Challenge

Every year, Severn Trent Water receives over 140,000 incident reports, such as burst pipes and interrupted water supplies. The company has a duty to respond quickly– but it was often hard to establish the exact location: service centre staff had to find a vaguely defined place, using road atlases and directories.

Up to 95% of incidents lacked a precise grid reference so jobs were sometimes wrongly routed. “Sending an engineering repair team to a wrong location is a very expensive mistake to make”, explains Dave Pearson, lead GIS architect at Severn Trent Water. “Valuable time is lost and a lot of additional effort is wasted trying to find out the correct location”, increasing costs and damaging customer relationships.

“ We felt that Esri’s GIS technology would give us the fastest possible retrieval of addresses and maps. Indeed, it has lived up to our expectations and, in some areas, surpassed them

Doug Cubin- GIS Consultant to Severn Trent Water

The Solution

Severn Trent Water decided to solve this with a comprehensive and flexible gazetteer service, backed up with digital maps. “We needed a way to ensure the accuracy of the location information collected in the service centre”, says Pearson. “By greatly reducing the probability of sending out inspectors and teams to the wrong location, we felt that we had an opportunity to improve efficiency and reduce costs.”

Based on successful use of GIS solutions from Esri UK to manage underground assets, “We felt that Esri’s GIS technology would give us the fastest possible retrieval of addresses and maps. Indeed, it has lived up to our expectations and, in some areas, surpassed them”, says Doug Cubin, GIS consultant to Severn Trent Water.

They chose Esri UK’s Intranet mapping solution to make GIS available to all service centre staff, and developed a gazetteer application (based on Esri’s spatial database engine) for comprehensive searching by address, motorway junction, schools and even chemists and pubs. “If a caller reports a problem on the bend in the road, and can roughly describe the area and a landmark or two, we can find it!” say Severn Trent Water.

To obtain a precise address and postcode, staff follow an on-screen workflow in a customer relationship management (CRM) application, which opens the GIS automatically. Staff drill down into the maps, looking for what the caller describes; when they find it, clicking on the map attaches a precise X-Y coordinate to the incident report, along with the postcode of the nearest address.

“ Almost immediately, GIS became indispensable in the call centre

Doug Cubin – GIS Consultant to Severn Trent Water

Benefits

GIS has transformed the way that customer agents work and has dramatically improved efficiency. Field teams usually find incidents quickly: less wasted time reduces costs and improves customer service.

  • The time taken to record an incident location has more than halved.
  • In at least 95% of calls requiring a field visit, engineers have an accurate grid reference and address before they leave.
  • The annual incident map that Severn Trent Water provides for OFWAT is used for analysing patterns and clusters and for deciding infrastructure investment: it is now much quicker and simpler to produce. The precise logging of X-Y coordinates enable automatic processing of much of the data, avoiding painstaking manual data cleansing.
  • Time saved on incident logging and data cleansing has been used for other quality improvements.

“To make this year’s reporting a less onerous task it really was crucial for us to get an accurate spatial reference for each incident report – and that’s precisely what we have achieved”, says a Severn Trent Water consultant.

The huge success of the GIS is evidenced by users’ enthusiasm. The intuitive interface and seamless integration with existing workflows ensured rapid acceptance so that it became indispensible. “It has become a ‘priority one’ business system. If a hardware failure causes a system outage, it has to be fixed straight away.”

“ We will be able to make this GIS available to potentially several thousand employees located across multiple sites, and will look to Esri UK for help to realise this vision

Severn Trent Water

The Future

GIS was initially used by 250 customer agents at one site. Severn Trent Water plans to make an adapted version available to all employees, so they can search and access accurate digital maps over the Intranet. “Scalability is a key advantage of the GIS solutions”, say Severn Trent Water. “We will be able to make this GIS available to potentially several thousand employees located across multiple sites, and will look to Esri UK for help to realise this vision.”

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Sadler Consultants

Providing a one-stop-shop for information from 31 European countries

A firm of air quality consultants has used Esri’s ArcGIS Online to develop a website for the European Commission that makes information about traffic restrictions in 31 European countries, easily accessible, from one interactive map. This comprehensive online service is expected to save time and money for drivers and vehicle operators, while helping to reduce urban pollution across the EU.

Esri UK’s Content Services team provided valuable consulting and data preparation support, which led to the inclusion of more comprehensive information for over 8,000 towns and cities, across Europe

Users view a map of the whole of Europe on the website, zoom into a specific country, region, city or town and simply click on their areas of interest to obtain accurate information about traffic restrictions

ArcGIS Online ensures that users experience consistently good website performance, whether they are using a PC, laptop, mobile tablet or smartphone, and displays information in 26 languages

The Challenge

It is a shocking but little-known fact that more people die from the effects of air pollution than are killed in road accidents in Europe. Furthermore, the cost of providing healthcare to alleviate the suffering caused by air pollution in the European Union (EU) is estimated to be as high as €790 million. To protect their populations, many European countries and cities have introduced traffic regulations in urban areas. Yet, while these measures help to improve air quality and reduce congestion, they can be confusing for drivers.

Haulage companies and coach operators that need to plan deliveries or tours in multiple European cities find it hard to obtain information about the many different types of restrictions in specific locations. They don’t know exactly where road charging schemes are in force or how to obtain a permit; they don’t know where weight and height restrictions exist which might influence their choice of vehicle; and they don’t know the locations of low emission zones or how to check to see if their vehicles will comply. For private drivers and small businesses planning one-off trips to European cities, it can be even harder to obtain this information.

To address this challenge, the European Commission (the EU’s executive body) appointed the specialist air quality consultancy Sadler Consultants Limited to develop a multilingual public website to consolidate information about urban access regulation schemes in Europe. The first version of this online facility was extremely well received, but the EU wanted to broaden it to include data on all traffic restrictions. Sadler Consultants also wanted to upgrade the web site’s mapping, which did not perform well on mobile devices or allow users to zoom in and out easily.

“ The website uses Esri’s ArcGIS Online to make it easier for drivers to understand and adhere to traffic restrictions in over 8,000 towns and cities in 31 European countries

The Solution

When Sadler Consultants upgraded and re-launched the web site, it replaced the previous FLASH-based map with Esri’s ArcGIS Online, a web-based geographic information system (GIS) solution that adapts effortlessly to any device. Users can now view a map of the whole of Europe on the website, zoom in to a specific country, region, city or town and click on their areas of interest. They can elect to view all restrictions or just certain types of regulation by checking boxes in an adjacent legend. Pop-up boxes then appear with detailed maps of relevant restrictions in the highlighted urban areas, and users can click in these boxes for full details, in any of 26 languages, including minority and non-EU languages.

GIS experts from Esri UK advised Sadler Consultants on the deployment of ArcGIS Online and assisted in the redevelopment of the website. In addition, Esri UK’s Content Services team provided expert guidance on appropriate data sources and brokered a data licensing deal with sat nav data provider HERE (formerly NAVTEQ). The team took HERE data on traffic restrictions in European towns and cities and converted this road network data into polygons depicting whole zones where restrictions apply. The data was then used in a series of ArcGIS Online maps configured by the Content Services team for use in the project.

“ It is my hope that the website will help support both towns and cities as well as vehicle operators, help to reduce pollution, noise and traffic in urban areas and improve lives across Europe

Lucy Sadler – Director, Sadler Consultant

Benefits

The incorporation of ArcGIS Online into www.urbanaccessregulations.eu has transformed the site, making it more intuitive to navigate and providing an exceptional user experience on mobiles and tablets. “ArcGIS Online gives us an interactive interface that people can use to easily plan their journeys,” says Lucy Sadler, director of Sadler Consultants. “The pop-ups give users summary information without having to leave the map. It works brilliantly!”

The information available on the website is also significantly more extensive than it was previously; thanks to the inclusion of HERE data, sourced and prepared by Esri UK, the site now offers – for the first time – details on the height, width, length and weight restrictions for all European towns and cities (over 8,000). “Haulage companies and tour operators have long been lobbying the EU for a service as comprehensive as this and now we can provide it for them,” Sadler says.

In liaising with HERE, Esri UK was able to secure a cost-effective data pricing model for the EU, and this led to a further improvement in the quality of the website, as Sadler explains. “Thanks to Esri UK’s negotiation and data preparation, we had more funds available to investigate the more complex traffic regulations, which need more details than those provided through the HERE data, so could produce a more comprehensive record of restrictions for the whole of the EU.”

Over time, commercial vehicle operators and private individuals will save time and money from use of the website. They won’t waste hours trying to obtain and understand information that only exists in foreign languages and will avoid accidental penalties from not knowing a scheme exists.

Ultimately, the main aim is that the website will have a profound health benefit for millions of Europeans. Mindful of the many EU directives on air quality and the environment, Sadler concludes, “It is my hope that the website will help support both towns and cities as well as vehicle operators, help to reduce pollution, noise and traffic in urban areas and improve lives across Europe.”


Visit the Website

Urban Access Regulation in Europe

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Willis Group

Collecting and sharing real-time insight

When major flooding occurred in Central Europe, international insurance broker Willis used Esri’s ArcGIS Collector App to gain detailed, real-time insight into this devastating natural disaster. The company could then provide well-informed advice to its customers and strengthen its reputation as an expert on flood risk.


Case study – Insurance


ArcGIS Collector App allows more precise, location-specific data and imagery to be collected in the field

Willis can make up-to-the-minute information from the disaster zone instantly accessible to analysts back in London

The company gains better quality information, which enables it to improve its flood models and offer better advice to customers

The Challenge

Incidents of severe flooding are expected to double in frequency by 2050, thrusting more communities into danger and causing significant, additional damage to property. For insurers, this means that flood-related claims are now a considerable risk factor and a growing proportion of their accumulated, insured risk.

As a global risk advisor, Willis Group Holdings plc (Willis) provides services to insurance and reinsurance companies, to help them better understand flooding, as well as other natural catastrophes. While it analyses satellite and aerial imagery to gain insight into flood patterns, Willis also recognises the vital importance of conducting ground surveys, to identify loss-generating mechanisms in more detail.

Between May and June 2013, vast swathes of Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic were afflicted by devastating floods. Willis quickly started to prepare a team of surveyors to visit the flooded regions and collect information about flood depths, damage and the effectiveness of local flood defences. As water levels rose, losses escalated and fatalities occurred, it became clear to Willis that it would need a more effective way to ensure the accuracy of the data it collected.

“ If we hadn’t had the ArcGIS Collector App, it would have been significantly more work ”

Timothy Fewtrell – divisional director for catastrophe risk, Willis

The Solution

Willis has been using geographic information system (GIS) solutions from Esri UK for many years and places considerable importance on spatial analytics as an enabler for technical innovation and client service excellence. During the flooding crisis, it decided to employ Esri’s ArcGIS Collector App for the first time. It took the organisation just a few days to set up the mobile GIS solution to meet its survey requirements, and less than a week after the Danube burst its banks, surveyors were on route to Central Europe.

Timothy Fewtrell, divisional director for catastrophe risk at Willis, led the 2013 survey. He used the ArcGIS Collector App on his Apple iPhone to note his precise location, via GPS, record survey observations and upload photographs. All of the location-specific data collected from sites across three countries was then automatically uploaded to Esri’s cloud-based GIS platform, ArcGIS Online, where it was instantly accessible to office-based analysts in London.

“If we hadn’t had the ArcGIS Collector App, it would have been significantly more work,” says Fewtrell. “We would have had to manually link photographs with locations when we got back to the office, and the information gathered would not have been anything like as precise from a location perspective.”

“ The ArcGIS Collector App helped us make improvements to our flood model, allowing it to become seen as state-of-the-art. It helped to solidify our foothold in the industry as the preferred supplier for flood risk assessments

Timothy Fewtrell – divisional director for catastrophe risk, Willis

Benefits

The use of Esri’s ArcGIS Collector App enabled Willis to collect accurate information about the 2013 flooding and make it accessible almost immediately to its analysts in offices around the world. Fewtrell believes that this ability to share real-time insight is incredibly valuable to the business. He says: “When our analysts can gain rapid visibility into what is actually happening on the ground, they can monitor risk very closely and provide well-informed advice to customers.”

Using the information gathered during the 2013 ground survey, Willis was able to develop detailed reports about the natural disaster, which were valued by customers. “We were able to show our customers that we really understood the dynamics of that particular flood incident,” Fewtrell recalls. “We could give them the detailed information they needed to help them assess damage claims more appropriately and make future policy decisions.”

The information gathered using the ArcGIS Collector App was also used by Willis to help it validate and improve its well-renowned flood risk model for Central Europe. Its model subsequently grew in accuracy, enhancing the company’s reputation and credibility in the sector. “The ArcGIS Collector App helped us make improvements to our flood model, allowing it to become seen as state-of-the-art,” Fewtrell says. “It helped to solidify our foothold in the industry as the preferred supplier for flood risk assessments.”

The 2013 flooding was undoubtedly one of Europe’s most devastating natural disasters. 25 lives were lost and the total damage done to commercial and residential properties has been estimated at €12 billion. Willis now has an extensive geospatial repository of data about where flood losses occurred in this event, the condition of flood defences at specific sites, actual water level recordings and more besides. As Fewtrell says, “all this information has significant value as intellectual property for Willis and will have many different uses for years to come.”

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Willis

Reducing complex global asset and supply chain risk

The global insurance broker Willis has used Esri’s ArcGIS platform to develop a web-based risk analysis solution. Called Atlas, it provides an effective way for Willis to share its incredible knowledge of global risk factors with its clients and deliver an additional premium value service.


Case study – Insurance


The Customer

Willis Group Holdings plc is a leading global insurance broker with 400 offices in 120 countries. The firm delivers a full range of professional insurance, reinsurance, risk management, financial consulting, human resource and actuarial services to corporations, public entities and institutions around the world.

Atlas combines Willis’ global threat data with information on specific business locations to give clients insight into the actual risks their businesses face

With a better understanding of risk, Willis’ clients can manage risk factors more effectively and take steps to minimise potential losses

Clients can access Atlas remotely, whenever they want to, to help them make better business decisions

The Challenge

Risk is an inevitable factor in any enterprise. Yet, for large multi-national organisations and businesses with global supply chains, understanding and managing that risk can be hugely complicated. Risk managers need to be able to assess hundreds of factors, ranging from the political stability of a country to the probability of an earthquake – at dozens of international locations – and then act upon them.

Willis supplies its corporate clients with a wealth of information and analysis to help them identify and manage global risks, including (but not limited to) climatic disasters, volcanic activity and political unrest. Until recently, this information was provided in PDF-format reports; however, clients sometimes found it difficult to aggregate this knowledge and analyse all the information at their disposal.

“There was a pressing need within our business to improve the service we offered to our clients by developing a smarter way to deliver all the intellectual capital and knowledge held within our global analytics department,” says Nick Charteris, Engineering Team Manager, Construction, Property & Casualty, Willis.

“ There was a pressing need within our business to improve the service we offered to our clients by developing a smarter way to deliver all the intellectual capital and knowledge held within our global analytics department

Nick Charteris – Engineering Team Manager, Construction, Property & Casualty, Willis

The Solution

Willis decided to harness Geographic Information System (GIS) technology within a solution that would allow its clients to review asset information and the risks associated with each asset. Interactive global maps and spatial analysis are an integral part of the overall platform. Named Atlas, the solution was developed in-house by Willis, with support from Esri UK and Esri Inc, using Esri’s ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS Online software.

For each new client, Willis loads location-based data specific to the client’s own business into Atlas and integrates it with its own vast reserves of risk management information and analytical power. Clients can therefore search for, view and evaluate both internal and external information at the same time, via a single easy-to-use application. Only named users, with discrete login details, can access a client’s data, so sensitive information is kept secure.

“ With a better understanding of potential threats across multiple geographies, our clients can manage risk more effectively and take steps to minimise potential losses

Nick Charteris – Engineering Team Manager, Construction, Property & Casualty, Willis

Benefits

Using Atlas, Willis’ clients can gain a far deeper understanding of their global risk profile, not only at their own business sites, but at partner and supplier sites and strategic locations throughout their entire supply chains. “Our clients can investigate their supply chains visually on a map to get new insight into risks that they might not have been aware of before,” says Nigel Davis, Executive Director Platforms, Willis.

With improved awareness of risk, Willis’ clients can then implement more pro-active measures to protect their businesses. Charteris explains, “With a better understanding of potential threats across multiple geographies, our clients can manage risk more effectively and take steps to minimise potential losses.”

For example, Atlas allows clients to monitor the path of an active tropical storm and to identify property and business operations that might be impacted. Clients can then respond quickly to put measures in place to protect these assets in order to reduce the financial losses that might occur through property damage and business disruption.

As a web-based solution, Atlas can be accessed by clients outside their offices, using their home computers, laptops or tablets. Consequently, managers who are travelling to overseas factories or visiting potential new suppliers can access risk data on demand to help make strategic decisions. Davis says, “Risk data can be used to inform day-to-day business operations rather than just annual reporting and that helps to reduce risk.”

In addition, use of the Atlas solution could potentially pave the way for clients to obtain more cost-effective insurance premiums. When they renew their corporate insurance, they will be able to provide accurate location-specific information which can be used to create a comprehensive risk assessment. “Atlas can help clients become more attractive propositions in the insurance market,” says Charteris. “With accurate risk profiles, we can help broker their risk to insurers, and drive better value for them.”

An added advantage of the solution is that it provides organisations with better control over who has access to risk management information. It is no longer possible for employees to forward PDF documents to other (internal or external) recipients by email; instead only authorised users can log into Atlas to view and analyse potentially sensitive risk data.

As well as benefiting clients, Atlas has also created efficiencies within Willis’ own business. The solution is integrated into core workflows and provides a central repository for data. Charteris says: “Atlas is becoming a single source of truth for our risk analytics intelligence.”

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